One thing I have struggled with while uncovering my family’s complicated past is the lack of consistency in naming conventions before the digital age.
In the Information Age, if you type in your name or ID with a single letter missing or out of place, your application gets rejected by whatever online program it is you’re trying to get access to. We all have numbers assigned to us—social security numbers, student numbers, worker numbers, case numbers, credit card numbers, you name it.
Thhppt. What’s a number? What’s a name? That which we would call a rose… Continue reading
My family name is Apple, but I am not related to anyone by that name.
Well, legally, yes. And by marriage. But genealogically no. So the old adage is definitely NOT true. At least not genetically.** Continue reading
While visiting Montreal and Upstate New York for summer vacation, my family were greeted by an unhappy surprise.
My mother has Stage 4 cancer.
I’ve been spending the past two to three years researching my ancestry (at, you guessed it, ancestry.com) and I had already hoped to talk with my mother about her memories of our Irish and French Canadian heritage.
I’d already managed to find quite bit online via various databases, both public and private. But there’s no substitute for family stories. And now I have a time limit.
Since becoming sick this past November (first a momentary, sudden illness in the pit of my stomach…), I’ve found it difficult to stay 100% healthy as winter has well and truly set in. It’s not terribly cold where I live (the middle of Honshu, the main island of Japan), but the up-and-down irregular temperature pattern this year has made it easier to catch colds, influenza, and other upper respiratory sicknesses.
So while down in the dumps with the mumps (which I contracted over New Year’s from my two children, despite having been vaccinated against it as a child…different strain here, perhaps), I’ve tackled a reading book list compiled from last summer. Even managed to finish one or two! Continue reading
Announcing a book giveaway!
Enter to win one of 10 signed copies of Notes from the Nineties (paperback, $6.98 value).
Begins March 25, 2016 and lasts until May 1, 2016.
Tell your friends! Tell your family! Oh, tell it on the mountain! And dangle your friend off of it…
From now I’ll be spending some time on the blog briefly explaining the background of some of the stories and poems in my new book Notes from the Nineties (already available for pre-order! Only $1.99!).
The first story in the volume is called “Cois Fharraige,” which used to be subtitled “or, By the Sea,” which is the meaning of the Irish Gaelic (Gaeilge) title. The poem that follows the story (“Ag an gcrosaire,” which means “at the crossroads”) stems from the same time period and experiences.
From 1995 to 1997 I studied creative writing, literature, history, and Irish language in the University of Notre Dame MFA program. (Actually, when I entered the program it was an MA but changed to a “terminal degree” at the end of my first year, but that’s another story…). When I told my roommate that I was studying Irish he first said “don’t the Irish speak English?” And then he added, “Gee, that’s going to improve your job offers” (or some such words). Continue reading
Time for a book release party…
I’m putting the finishing touches on an anthology of short stories and poems, some of which date alllll the way back to 1992. Pre-SNS. Pre-email, even. Scary stuff.
A few come from my undergraduate Senior Project. A couple from my MFA thesis (the main part of which became Approaching Twi-Night). Another handful were used to apply to said MFA program. Aside from two that were published in university literary journals, the poems have basically never seen the light of day. A couple of the stories did appear in previous versions elsewhere.
The stories are meant to provoke, to inspire, to draw a contrast between aspects of life in Upstate, out of state, and overseas, to see the world through different eyes…to challenge perceptions. And naturally, to make you laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time. Readers should find something to interest them, no matter their reading preference. That, in my humble opinion, is one of the biggest benefits of daring varying writing styles.
This space will be updated from now until the book release with notes on the stories — some shorter, some longer — but the poems I leave to the reader’s interpretation.
Hope you look forward to it!
Click here or on the tab above for the Notes from the Nineties page.